youth worker, youth ministry, navigation

3 Keys to Navigating Obstacles In YM

By Doug Franklin August 16, 2012

Navigating obstacles is an important skill for leaders.  Leadership is all about making positive changes in a youth group or ministry.  Most people do not like change.  Therefore, implementing the change will mean facing barriers and blockages, as well as hazards and hindrances.  To achieve the mission Youth Workers must navigate obstacles.

It’s critical for Youth Workers to navigate obstacles.  Failure in this area results in reduced trust, lost momentum and wasted resources.  Moreover, the desired change doesn’t take place or is delayed.  There are three key principles in navigating obstacles.

1. All Youth Workers face obstacles
You will not be the exception.  Obstacles go hand-in-hand with being a leader.  Expect them and you will never be disappointed.  Resistance may come from followers or people outside the group or organization.  Whatever the source, leading others means taking people where they don’t want to go.  It’s similar to children who don’t want to take their medication because it tastes bad.  Deep down they know it’ll be good for them, but in the short run it’s hard to swallow it.

2. Successful Youth Workers navigate obstacles through teams
Leaders who try to do everything themselves will soon burn out.  Those who don’t do anything at all will eventually rust out.  The effective leader learns to delegate to others to involve them in the mission.  When followers are active participants they develop a sense of built-in loyalty to the leader and commitment to the mission.  The key is to match the person to the position.  Amazing results occur whenever people operate in their areas of strength.  Leadership expert Ken Blanchard sums it up well: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

3. Youth Workers face two types of obstacles: the expected and the unexpected
Sometimes leaders can anticipate obstacles before they occur.  If the team does some advance planning, they can navigate around the issue before it becomes a stumbling block.  For example, the funding of a project usually is one the obstacles to overcome.  By thinking ahead leaders can identify sources of money and strategies to secure it.  However, leaders sometimes face obstacles they didn’t expect.  Perhaps a key team member leaves suddenly.  Or maybe some group unexpectedly opposes the project.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More